I think these numbers are mostly an artifact of bad timing, for reasons I’ll explain, but … wow.
A new, annual survey of American Jewish public opinion by the American Jewish Committee finds that Jews, by and large, continue to approve of Obama — 57 percent say they approve of the job he’s doing — and also back his handling of Israel.
The 55 percent who approve of Obama’s Israel policy is a slight improvement on the finding in the same survey last year, while the disapproval number has ticked up slightly more.
His net support on Israel has declined slightly — 55/37 this year versus 54/32 last year — but given the recent “unpleasantness,” I would have expected a more dramatic change than +22 to +18. Also — dude:
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking of how The One humiliated Netanyahu during their meeting in D.C. and wondering whether he’d have to actually, physically kick him in the stones for this sample to rate relations as “somewhat negative.” That’s where the bad timing of the poll comes in: It was conducted from March 2 to March 23, a few days before news broke of what happened between them at the White House and several weeks before Bibi pulled out of Obama’s nuke summit. The extent of the deterioration in relations simply wasn’t clear yet when these questions were asked. Then again, it wasn’t fully hidden either: The blow up over new construction in east Jerusalem came all the way back on March 9 and top U.S. officials had plenty to say about in the days after. You might think that maybe the sample blamed Netanyahu for all of that and that his approval rating among them suffered accordingly, but you’d be wrong. His handling of U.S. relations is at 57/30, just a few points worse than last year’s 59/23 split. So the respondents think both Obama and Bibi are doing a swell job with their relationship and that the relationship itself is pretty darned positive. Do they … read the news?
Per Jennifer Rubin, who finds the poll even more depressing than I do, it sounds like the answer may be “no”:
What about a Palestinian state? Only 48 percent approve of the idea. What about compromising on Jerusalem? Oh, 61 percent disapprove of that idea. 75 percent of Jews agree with this statement: “The goal of the Arabs is not the return of occupied territories but rather the destruction of Israel.” Do they know what Obama’s Israel policy is? It’s hard to fathom how their support for his policy meshes with his policy positions, which are antithetical to that policy. One is forced to conclude that this is a near Pavlovian response: “Obama=approval.”
68 percent also say that sanctions are unlikely to stop Iran’s nuclear program, but at 47 percent, The One nonetheless has near-majority support for his handling of that too. (I wonder if this will change things.) How to explain all this? Simple: The sample’s 50 percent Democratic and just 15 percent Republican, which is probably roughly representative. Democrats tend to follow the Democratic line and Israel is no exception, even for Jewish voters. Gloomy exit quotation from Rubin: “If Israel supporters hope to apply pressure on the administration to reverse its approach to Israel and Iran, I have a suggestion: get some gentile support.”